Residents of the Chinese city of Chongqing were surprised to find that the famous Yangtze river had turned a shade of red yesterday, September 6, 2012.
The red color stopped some residents in their tracks. They put water from the river in bottles to save it. Fishermen and other workers who rely on the river for income kept going about their business, according to the UK’s Daily Mail.
Officials are reportedly investigating the cause.
One natural explanation for red water that can likely be ruled out is color-producing microorganisms, according to Emily Stanley, a professor of limnology (the study of inland waters) at the University of Wisconsin.
“When water turns red, the thing a lot of people think of first is red tide,” Stanley told Life’s Little Mysteries. “But the algae that causes red tide is a marine group and not a freshwater group, so it’s highly, highly unlikely that this is a red-tide-related phenomenon.”
“It looks like a pollutant phenomenon,” she said. “Water bodies that have turned red very fast in the past have happened because people have dumped dyes into them.”
An industrial dye dump was in fact the explanation when an urban stretch of another Chinese river, the Jian, turned crimson last December. Investigators traced the color back to a chemical plant that they said had been illegally producing red dye for firework wrappers.
Stay tuned for further updates…
(ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
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